nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Oh dear! Transatomic Power has been making false claims about Generation IV nuclear reactors

text-cat-questionIt’s interesting the way that, for dubious nuclear enterprises, they like to put a young woman at the top. Is this to make the nuclear image look young and trendy? Or is it so they she can cop the flak when it all goes wrong?

Below – Leslie Dewan – CEO of Transatomic Power

dewan-leslie-poisoned-chaliceNuclear Energy Startup Transatomic Backtracks on Key Promises The company, backed by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, revised inflated assertions about its advanced reactor design after growing concerns prompted an MIT review. MIT Technology Review by James Temple  February 24, 2017 Nuclear energy startup Transatomic Power has backed away from bold claims for its advanced reactor technology after an informal review by MIT professors highlighted serious errors in the company’s calculations, MIT Technology Review has learned.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, founded in 2011 by a pair of MIT students in the Nuclear Science & Engineering department, asserted that its molten salt reactor design could run on spent nuclear fuel from conventional reactors and generate energy far more efficiently than them. In a white paper published in March 2014, the company proclaimed its reactor “can generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor.”

Those lofty claims helped it raise millions in venture capital, secure a series of glowing media profiles (including in this publication), and draw a rock-star lineup of technical advisors. But in a paper on its site dated November 2016, the company downgraded “75 times” to “more than twice.” In addition, it now specifies that the design “does not reduce existing stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel,” or use them as its fuel source. The promise of recycling nuclear waste, which poses tricky storage and proliferation challenges, was a key initial promise of the company that captured considerable attention.

“In early 2016, we realized there was a problem with our initial analysis and started working to correct the error,” cofounder Leslie Dewan said in an e-mail response to an inquiry from MIT Technology Review.

The dramatic revisions followed an analysis in late 2015 by Kord Smith, a nuclear science and engineering professor at MIT and an expert in the physics of nuclear reactors.

At that point, there were growing doubts in the field about the company’s claims and at least some worries that any inflated claims could tarnish the reputation of MIT’s nuclear department, which has been closely associated with the company. Transatomic also has a three-year research agreement with the department, according to earlier press releases.

In reviewing the company’s white paper, Smith noticed immediate red flags. He relayed his concerns to his department head and the company, and subsequently conducted an informal review with two other professors.

“I said this is obviously incorrect based on basic physics,” Smith says. He asked the company to run a test, which ended up confirming that “their claims were completely untrue,” Smith says.

He notes that promising to increase the reactor’s fuel efficiency by 75 times is the rough equivalent of saying that, in a single step, you’d developed a car that could get 2,500 miles per gallon.

Ultimately, the company redid its analysis, and produced and posted a new white paper………

The company has raised at least $4.5 million from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Acadia Woods Partners, and Daniel Aegerter of Armada Investment AG. Venture capital veteran Ray Rothrock serves as chairman of the company.

Founders Fund didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry……https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603731/nuclear-energy-startup-transatomic-backtracks-on-key-promises/

February 25, 2017 Posted by | Reference, spinbuster, technology, USA | Leave a comment

New method to recycle lithium

recycle-rare-earths-2EurekAlert  7-FEB-2017 Efficient approach to leaching lithium and cobalt from recycled batteriesINDERSCIENCE PUBLISHERS Rechargeable lithium ion batteries power our phones and tablets they drive us from A to B in electric vehicles, and have many applications besides. Unfortunately, the devices that they power can fail and the batteries themselves are commonly only usable for two to three years. As such, there are millions batteries that must be recycled. Research published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy describes a new way to extract the lithium and the cobalt that make up the bulk of the metal components of these batteries…..https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/ip-htr020717.php

February 8, 2017 Posted by | technology | Leave a comment

UK government’s work on Small Modular Nuclear reactors (SMRs) has slowed down

flag-UKSmall Modular Reactors NuClearNewsNo92 February 2017  Scotland Engineering giant Rolls-Royce is teaming up with a host of rivals including Amec Foster Wheeler and Arup and nuclear specialist Nuvia to develop mini-nuclear reactors. Rolls Royce believes the so-called next generation technology could text-SMRssupport as many as 40,000 jobs if the industry flourishes. The consortium is entering a £250m competition started last March by the Government, which wants to find the best SMR design for civil use. It is hoped the technology will be more cost-effective than conventional plants. (1) The companies believe SMRs will strengthen the UK’s energy security by reducing reliance on foreign gas imports and smoothing out the impact of ‘intermittent generation’ technologies.

In November 2015, the British government announced plans to invest at least £250 million over the next five years in a nuclear research and development program including a competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK. Rolls-Royce submitted a paper to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, outlining its plan to develop a fleet of 7 GWe of SMRs with its partners. Other participants in the UK’s SMR competition include French-owned EDF Energy and its Chinese partner CNNC, Westinghouse and US developer NuScale Power. (2)

In the US NuScale has formally completed its design submission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The 12,000-page application will now undergo a lengthy review by the NRC, which must approve the design before construction can begin. (3)

According to City AM the Government’s work on SMRs appears to have slowed down, and many companies were expecting mention of plans in the industrial strategy published in January, but there was nothing specific. (4)

  1. Telegraph 8th Jan 2017 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/01/08/rolls-royce-partners-rivals-mininuclear-reactors/
  2. World Nuclear News 9th Jan 2017 http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Rolls-Royce-names-partnersfor-UK-SMR-09011701.html
  3. NPR 13th Jan 2017 http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/13/509673094/miniaturized-nuclearpower-plant-u-s-reviewing-proposed-design
  4. City AM 8th Jan 2017 http://www.cityam.com/256579/rolls-royce-launches-partnership-engineering-giantsamec http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo92.pdf

February 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Delays, ballooning costs, stall Next-Generation Nuclear Reactors

Next-Generation Nuclear Reactors Stalled by Costly Delays, Bloomberg, by Stephen Stapczynski February 3, 2017, 

  • Toshiba seen booking billions in impairment on nuclear unit
  • Shadows of Fukushima impair industry push on new age reactors

reactor-generations

Costly delays, growing complexity and new safety requirements in the wake of the triple meltdown at Fukushima are conspiring to thwart a new age of nuclear reactor construction.

So-called generation III+ reactors were supposed to have simpler designs and safety features to avoid the kind of disaster seen in Japan almost six years ago. With their development, the industry heralded the dawn of a new era of cheaper, easier-to-build atomic plants.

Instead, the new reactors are running afoul of tighter regulations and unfamiliar designs, delaying completions and raising questions on whether the breakthroughs are too complex and expensive to be realized without state aid. The developments have left the industry’s pioneers, including Areva SA and Westinghouse Electric Co., struggling to complete long-delayed projects while construction elsewhere gains pace.

“The cost overrun situation is driven by a near-perfect storm of societal risk aversion to nuclear causing ultra-restrictive regulatory requirements, construction complexity, and lack of nuclear construction experience by the industry,” said Lake Barrett, a former official at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Toshiba Corp., Japan’s biggest maker of nuclear power plants, is the latest to join a list of companies facing impairments in the pursuit of cutting-edge reactors…….

Ballooning Costs

In 2015, the investment cost to develop a new nuclear plant was $5,828 per kilowatt, up from $2,065 in 1998, according to a World Nuclear Associationreport. In Europe, construction of a new nuclear facility in France seen costing $7,202 per kilowatt, compared with $2,280……..

“I don’t know of any recent examples of new, large, complex technological construction projects that have come in on time and on budget,” Allison Macfarlane, a former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said by e-mail.

The industry has no agreed-upon definition for generation III+. Broadly, the reactors are expected to withstand an airplane strike and the cooling systems should operate for at least three days without electricity…….https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-02/costly-delays-upset-reactor-renaissance-keeping-nuclear-at-bay

February 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, technology | Leave a comment

NuScale’s “small modular reactor” not clean, safe, or even small, really

NuScale won’t solve energy problems http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/opinion/mailbag/letter-nuscale-won-t-solve-energy-problems/article_84aa2a03-1d03-53aa-be1a-3e86e1f80869.html Jan 23, 2017 

smr-on-truck

The Gazette-Times’ Jan. 13 article about NuScale’s reactor certification, needs some clarification. NuScale’s “small modular reactor” is not: an answer to climate change, small, a “clean energy” source, nor inherently safe.

The nuclear industry has been selling us a story that nuclear power is a solution to climate change because it does not generate carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas. While this is true of the nuclear chain reaction itself, the front and back ends of nuclear power generate a large volume of CO2 and leave a trail of endlessly dangerous radioactivity along the way.

 At the front end of nuclear power, carbon energy is used for uranium mining, processing, conversion, and enrichment, as well as for transportation, formulation of rods and construction of nuclear reactors (power plants). At the back end, there is the task of decommissioning and isolating highly radioactive nuclear waste for millennia — a task which science has so far not been able to address.
NuScale’s power plants are not small. Their plants contain 50 megawatt modules, but to be competitive with solar energy, wind energy or natural gas, they need all 12 modules (600 megawatts). Nuclear energy is not “clean energy.” This is understood with the ongoing Fukushima or Chernobyl tragedies. NuScale’s is not a fail-safe system, regardless of the nonhuman intervention with its passive design. Neither Mother Nature nor human nature can be anticipated completely. NuScale is not the answer to our energy problems, it will just add to them. Wind, solar and efficiency are better investments.

January 25, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

USA Congress supports small nuclear reactors

fleecing-taxpayer

Congress Passes Unconventional Nuclear Power Bill ANDREW FOLLETT,  Daily Caller, 24 Jan 17   House lawmakers passed legislation Monday to support unconventional nuclear power.

If signed by President Trump, the proposal could change how the government regulates nuclear power and create a boom in the utilization of advanced unconventional reactor technology. The bill was sponsored by two Republicans and three Democrats.

“We believe that trailblazing the advance of nuclear energy technology including Gen 3+, Small Modular Reactors, Non-Light Water Reactor (LWR) Advanced Reactors and Fusion Reactors is one of the key imperatives for U.S. market competitiveness,” David Blee, executive director of the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council (NIC), told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“It is vital to maintaining the U.S. lead in technology innovation, safety enhancements, energy security and clean energy,” Blee said…….

text-SMRsEnergy companies in Idaho and Utah announced plans in June to build twelve small modular reactors to provide electricity to nine western states.

Getting regulators to consider approving an unconventional nuclear design is incredibly expensive. The company NuScale was required to produce a 12,000-page document and spend $500 million dollars just to get the government to consider its designs. The company thinks it won’t be able to commercialize small modular reactors by 2026 at the earliest due to regulatory delays…….

Getting regulatory approval from the NRC to build a new conventional reactor can take up to 25 years…….. http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/24/congress-passes-unconventional-nuclear-power-bill/

January 25, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, USA | Leave a comment

“Small” nuclear reactors are still pretty big, AND more expensive than large ones

NuScale says its mass-produced reactor modules will be simpler and more affordable to build than a big plant. Placing several modules in a single location will provide the same power output as a commercial reactor, says Mike McGough, the company’s chief commercial officer. NuScale is already partnering with a consortium of Utah utilities to build a 12-module power plant on land in Idaho owned by the U.S. Department of Energy. (The DOE is a partner in the NuScale project.)…..
not everyone is convinced smaller is better.Ed Lyman,an analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, says the electricity generated by a smaller reactor is more expensive than that generated by a larger one. Companies such as NuScale hope to offset the higher costs by saving on the cost of construction, but Lyman isn’t convinced. He worries savings will come at the cost of safety.

He says NuScale wants to do things like reduce the size and strength of the reactor containment building and the number of personnel needed to operate the plant. “NuScale is proposing major reductions in all of these areas relative to current NRC requirements for large reactors, based on the assertion that the reactor will be safer,” he says.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

America’s Nuclear Submarines Now Obsolete? – new Swedish Technology

submarine,-nuclear-underwatDid Sweden Make America’s Nuclear Submarines Obsolete? The National Interest, 30 Dec 16 Nuclear-powered submarines have traditionally held a decisive edge in endurance, stealth and speed over cheaper diesel submarines. However, new Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology has significantly narrowed the performance gap on a new generation of submarines that cost a fraction of the price of a nuclear-powered boat……..

Nuclear vs. AIP: Who Wins?:

Broadly speaking, how do AIP vessels compare in performance to nuclear submarines?  Let’s consider the costs and benefits in terms of stealth, endurance, speed and cost.

Stealth:

Nuclear powered submarines have become very quiet—at least an order of magnitude quieter than a diesel submarine with its engine running.  In fact, nuclear-powered submarines may be unable to detect each other using passive sonar, as evidenced by the 2009 collision of a British and French nuclear ballistic missile submarines, both oblivious to the presence of the other.

However, there’s reason to believe that AIP submarines can, if properly designed, swim underwater even more quietly. The hydraulics in a nuclear reactor produce noise as they pump coolant liquid, while an AIP’s submarine’s engines are virtually silent. Diesel-powered submarines can also approach this level of quietness while running on battery power, but can only do so for a few hours whereas an AIP submarine can keep it up for days.

Diesel and AIP powered submarines have on more than one occasion managed to slip through anti-submarine defenses and sink American aircraft carriers in war games. Of course, such feats have also been performed by nuclear submarines.

Endurance:

Nuclear submarines can operate underwater for three or four months at a time and cross oceans with ease. While some conventional submarines can handle the distance, none have comparable underwater endurance.

AIP submarines have narrowed the gap, however.  While old diesel submarines needed to surface in a matter of hours or a few days at best to recharge batteries, new AIP powered vessels only need to surface every two to four weeks depending on type. (Some sources make the unconfirmed claim that the German Type 214 can even last more than 2 months.) Of course, surfaced submarines, or even those employing a snorkel, are comparatively easy to detect and attack.

Nuclear submarines still have a clear advantage in endurance over AIP boats, particularly on the long-distance patrols.  However, for countries like Japan, Germany and China that mostly operate close to friendly shores, extreme endurance may be a lower priority.

Speed:……..Obviously, high maximum speed grants advantages in both strategic mobility and tactical agility.  However, it should be kept in mind that even nuclear submarines rarely operate at maximum speed because of the additional noise produced.

 On the other hand, an AIP submarine is likely to move at especially slow speeds when cruising sustainably using AIP compared to diesel or nuclear submarines.  For example, a Gotland class submarine is reduced to just 6 miles per hour if it wishes to remain submerged at maximum endurance—which is simply too slow for long distance transits or traveling with surface ships.  Current AIP technology doesn’t produce enough power for higher speeds, and thus most AIP submarines also come with noisy diesel engines as backup.

Cost:

Who would have guessed nuclear reactors are incredibly expensive?  The contemporary U.S. Virginia class attack submarine costs $2.6 billion dollars, and the earlier Los Angeles class before it around $2 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars.  Mid-life nuclear refueling costs add millions more.

By comparison, AIP powered submarines have generally cost between $200 and $600 million, meaning a country could easily buy three or four medium-sized AIP submarines instead of one nuclear attack submarine. Bear in mind, however, that the AIP submarines are mostly small or medium sized vessels with crews of around 30 and 60 respectively, while nuclear submarines are often larger with crews of 100 or more.  They may also have heavier armament, such as Vertical Launch Systems, when compared to most AIP powered vessels.

Nevertheless, a torpedo or missile from a small submarine can hit just as hard as one fired from a large one, and having three times the number of submarine operating in a given stretch of ocean could increase the likelihood chancing upon an important target, and make it easier to overwhelm anti-submarine defenses.

While AIP vessels may not be able to do everything a nuclear submarine can, having a larger fleet of submarines would be very useful in hunting opposing ships and submarines for control of the seas. Nor would it be impossible to deploy larger AIP powered submarines; China has already deployed one, and France is marketing a cheaper AIP-powered version of the Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine.

It is no surprise that navies that operate largely around coastal waters are turning to cheap AIP submarines, as their disadvantage are not as relevant when friendly ports are close at hand. ……..http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/did-sweden-make-americas-nuclear-submarines-obsolete-18908?page=2

January 2, 2017 Posted by | Sweden, technology, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority approves closure of Monju nuclear reprocessing reactor by next April

monju-plant-in-tsuruga-fukui-prefectureNuclear watchdog approves scrapping Monju reactor  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161228_19/ Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved the government’s decision to scrap the Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor. The education, science and technology ministry briefed the NRA on Wednesday about the government’s decision last week about the troubled reactor in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said the decision is in line with the recommendation it made in November last year.
In it, the NRA urged an overhaul of a research and development project involving the reactor. It said scrapping the reactor would be an option unless a new operator were found for it.

The ministry also told the NRA on Wednesday that it will draw up a basic plan for decommissioning the reactor by next April.

It added that to eliminate possible safety risks soon, it will instruct reactor operator Japan Atomic Energy Agency to remove nuclear fuel from the reactor in about 5 and half years.

Tanaka asked the ministry to oversee the decommissioning process to ensure safety. He said the NRA will study whether relevant laws should be amended to step up regulation. He added that it may also set up an expert team to monitor the process.

December 30, 2016 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Monju closure marks the end of the failed “nuclear fuel cycle” dream

fast-breeder-MonjuJapan pulls plug on Monju, ending US$8.5 billion nuclear self-sufficiency push, South China Morning Post,  21 December, 2016 

Japan on Wednesday formally pulled the plug on an US$8.5 billion nuclear power project designed to realise a long-term aim for energy self-sufficiency after decades of development that yielded little electricity but plenty of controversy.

The move to shut the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor in Fukui prefecture west of Tokyo adds to a list of failed attempts around the world to make the technology commercially viable and potentially cut stockpiles of dangerous nuclear waste……

The plant was built to burn plutonium derived from the waste of reactors at Japan’s conventional nuclear plants and create more fuel than it used, closing the so-called nuclear fuel cycle and giving a country that relies on overseas supplies for most of its energy needs a home-grown electricity source.

With Monju’s shutdown, Japan’s taxpayers are now left with an estimated bill of at least 375 billion yen (US$3.2 billion) to decommission its reactor, on top of the 1 trillion yen (US$8.5 billion) spent on the project.

Japan is still committed to trying to make the technology work and will build a new experimental research reactor at Monju, the government said.

But critics within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) think it will be another futile attempt.

“We need to terminate the impossible dream of the nuclear fuel cycle. The fast breeder reactor is not going to be commercially viable. We know it. We all know it,” senior LDP lawmaker Taro Kono said recently at an event in Tokyo.  http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/2056403/japan-pulls-plug-monju-ending-us85-billion-nuclear-self?utm_source=edm&utm_medium=edm&utm_content=20161222&utm_campaign=scmp_today

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

The huge danger to the world of plutonium space operations

text-from-the-archivesThe problem — a huge one and not mentioned whatsoever by World Nuclear News — involves radiation-warningaccidents with space nuclear power systems releasing radioactivity impacting on people and other life on Earth. That has already happened. With more space nuclear operations, more atomic mishaps would be ahead.

are subject to falling back to Earth and raining deadly radioactivity on human beings and other life on this planet.

The Push for More Spaceborne Nuclear Russian Roulette  HUFFINGTON POST, Karl Grossman, Investigative reporter  07/31/2012 World Nuclear News, the information arm of the World Nuclear Association that seeks to boost the use of atomic energy, last week heralded a NASA Mars rover slated to land on Mars on Monday, the first Mars rover fueled with plutonium.

“A new era of space exploration is dawning through the application of nuclear energy for rovers on Mars and the Moon, power generation at future bases on the surfaces of both and soon for rockets that enable interplanetary travel,” began a dispatch  from World Nuclear News. It was headed: “Nuclear ‘a stepping stone’ to space exploration.”

In fact, in space as on Earth there are safe, clean alternatives to nuclear power. Indeed, right now a NASA space probe energized by solar energy is on its way to Jupiter, a mission which for years NASA claimed could not be accomplished without nuclear power providing onboard electricity. Solar propulsion of spacecraft has begun. And scientists, including those at NASA, have been working on using solar energy and other safe power sources for human colonies on Mars and the moon.

The World Nuclear Association describes itself  as “representing the people and organizations of the global nuclear profession.”….. The problem — a huge one and not mentioned whatsoever by World Nuclear News — involves accidents with space nuclear power systems releasing radioactivity impacting on people and other life on Earth. That has already happened. With more space nuclear operations, more atomic mishaps would be ahead. NASA, before last November’s launch of Curiosity, acknowledged that if the rocket lofting it exploded at launch in Florida, plutonium could be released affecting an area as far as 62 miles away — which includes Orlando. Further, if the rocket didn’t break out of the Earth’s gravitational field, it and the rover would fall back into the atmosphere and break up, potentially releasing plutonium over a massive area. In its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the mission, NASA said  in this situation plutonium could impact on “Earth surfaces between approximately 28-degrees north latitude and 28-degrees south latitude.” That includes Central America and much of South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

The EIS said the costs of decontamination of plutonium in areas would be $267 million for each square mile of farmland and $1.5 billion for each square mile of “mixed-use urban areas.” The Curiosity mission itself, because of $900 million in cost overruns, now has a price of $2.5 billion.

NASA set the odds very low for a plutonium release for Curiosity. The EIS said “overall” on the mission, the likelihood of plutonium being released was 1 in 220. Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space , which has for more than 20 years been the leading opposition group to space nuclear missions, declared that “NASA sadly appears committed to maintaining its dangerous alliance with the nuclear industry. Both entities view space as a new market for the deadly plutonium fuel. … Have we not learned anything from Chernobyl and Fukushima?”

Plutonium has long been described as the most lethal radioactive substance. And the plutonium isotope used in the space nuclear program, and on the Curiosity rover, is significantly more radioactive than the type of plutonium used as fuel in nuclear weapons or built up as a waste product in nuclear power plants. It is Plutonium-238 as distinct from Plutonium-239. Plutonium-238 has a far shorter half-life  — 87.7 years compared to Plutonium-239 with a half-life of 24,110 years. An isotope’s half-life is the period in which half of its radioactivity is expended.

Dr. Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear physicist and president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, explains that Plutonium-238 “is about 270 times more radioactive than Plutonium-239 per unit of weight.”….

The worst accident of several involving a Soviet or Russian nuclear space systems was the fall from orbit in 1978 of the Cosmos 954 satellite powered by a nuclear reactor. It also broke up in the atmosphere as it fell, spreading radioactive debris over 77,000 square miles of the Northwest Territories of Canada…..

the pressure by promoters of nuclear energy on NASA and space agencies around the world to use atomic energy in space is intense — as is the drive of nuclear promoters on governments and the public for atomic energy on Earth.

Critically, nuclear power systems for space use must be fabricated on Earth — with all the dangers that involves, and launched from Earth — with all the dangers that involves (one out of 100 rockets destruct on launch), and are subject to falling back to Earth and raining deadly radioactivity on human beings and other life on this planet. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karl-grossman/the-push-for-more-spacebo_b_1717531.html

December 23, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

DOME INSTALLED FOR CHINA NUCLEAR PLANT

 http://www.breakbulk.com/dome-installed-china-nuclear-plant/ A 300-ton containment dome has been installed at China’s first, domestically designed nuclear power plant in Fujian province, marking a key development for an effort to export the nation’s nuclear technology worldwide.

The successful lift project at the Fuqing nuclear complex construction site was announced via a news report on state-run CCTV television Nov. 26.

The plant, slated to open in 2020, is one of two being built at Fuqing with the China-designed Hualong One reactor. Two power plants at the Fangchenggang complex in Guangxi province will also use the reactor.

When completed, the report said, the Hualong reactor plants – called Fuqing 5 and Fuqing 6 – will be “significantly larger” than four other plants at the complex sporting reactors jointly designed by China and the French company Areva.

For safety, the report said, the 48-meter-diameter dome installed at Fuqing 5 was built with concrete and a steel alloy that’s six times stronger than regular steel.

Fuqing’s builder China National Nuclear Corp. and Fangchenggang’s builder China General Nuclear Corp. have been marketing the Hualong reactor worldwide. Customers so far include Britain, Pakistan and Argentina.

December 19, 2016 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

Nuclear fusion project in doubt, because of Britain’s exit from EU

nuclear-fusion-pie-SmBrexit puts Europe’s nuclear fusion future in doubt By Timothy Revell, New Scientist, 1 Dec 16 

Brexit puts the future of the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor, based in Oxfordshire, in doubt. By leaving the European Union the UK might also exit Euratom, the EU’s framework for safe nuclear energy.

“It would be bizarre and extreme for the UK, which has been at the forefront of fusion research for 50 years, to just leave these projects,” says Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. “It would make no sense strategically.”

 The UK government has yet to say what its plans are for cooperating with Euratom, but part of the Brexit negotiations will have to include the nuclear fusion experiment JET. Decommissioning JET is expected to leave around 3000 cubic metres of radioactive waste, which would cost around £289 million to deal with, according to the UKAEA.

At the moment, JET hosts 350 scientists and is funded by 40 different countries. Its aim is to commercialise nuclear fusion, which releases energy by forcing atoms together in the same process that powers the sun.

The energy output should be far greater than that of current nuclear power stations and produce a smaller amount of waste. But making it work effectively has proved incredibly difficult, as reactors require huge amounts of energy to get going and only remain stable for short periods……https://www.newscientist.com/article/2114690-brexit-puts-europes-nuclear-fusion-future-in-doubt/

December 2, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, technology, UK | Leave a comment

The AP1000 Nuclear Reactor Design is not fit for purpose: several safety flaws

The AP1000 advanced passive nuclear reactor design has a weaker containment, and fewer back-up safety systems than current reactor designs..

The AP1000 appears to be vulnerable to a very large release of radioactivity following an accident if there were just a small failure in the steel containment vessel, because the gasses would be sucked out the hole in the top of the AP1000 Shield Building due to the chimney effect.

 Recent experience with existing reactors suggests that containment corrosion, cracking, and leakage is more common than previously thought, and AP1000s are more vulnerable to containment corrosion than conventional reactors.

In addition the AP1000 shield building lacks flexibility and so could crack in the event of an earthquake or aircraft impact.

The AP1000 reactor design is not fit for purpose and so should be refused a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Statement of Design Acceptability (SDA). 

flag-UKNuClear News No 90 26 Nov 16  The AP1000 Reactor Design

NuGen, a consortium of Toshiba and Engie (formerly GDF Suez), is proposing to build three AP1000 reactors at Moorside in Cumbria – a site adjacent to Sellafield. These three reactors together would have a capacity of up to 3.8GW.

ap1000-nuclear-reactor

The AP1000 reactor is a pressurised water reactor (PWR) designed and sold by Westinghouse Electric Company, now majority owned by Toshiba. But unlike other PWR designs it is what is called an advanced passive design. The idea behind advanced passive design is that it shouldn’t require operator actions or electronic feedback in order to shut it down safely in the event of a loss of coolant accident (LOCA). Such reactors rely more on natural processes such as natural convection for cooling and gravity rather than motor-driven pumps to provide a backup water supply. Westinghouse claims that AP1000 plant safety systems are able to automatically establish and maintain cooling of the reactor core and maintain the integrity of the containment which holds in the radioactive contents indefinitely following design-basis accidents.

The nuclear regulators – the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Environment Agency – have been carrying out a new process called ‘Generic Design Assessment’ (GDA), which looks at the safety, security and environmental implications of new reactor designs before an application is made to build that design at a particular site. Initially the GDA for the AP1000 was expected to be completed around spring 2011, when the regulators would have issued a statement about the acceptability of the design. By the end of 2010 it was clear that the ONR would only be able to issue “interim” approvals for the Areva EPR and Westinghouse AP1000 reactor designs at the end of the generic design assessment (GDA) in June 2011. Construction could only occur after any outstanding “GDA issues” had been resolved.

Eventually on 14th December 2011 the Regulators granted interim Design Acceptance Confirmations (iDACs) and interim Statements of Design Acceptability (iSoDAs) for the UK EPR and the AP1000 reactor designs. The Regulators also confirmed that they are satisfied with how EDF and Westinghouse plan to resolve the GDA issues identified during the process.

ONR’s interim approval for the AP1000 contained 51 GDA Issues. At this point Westinghouse decided to request a pause in the GDA process for the AP1000 pending customer input to finalizing it. Westinghouse has since become part of the NuGen consortium with its parent company Toshiba taking a 60% stake, the process for AP1000 has resumed, and is scheduled to be completed by March 2017 with issuance of DAC and SODA. By March 2016, the cost of the GDA for the AP1000 had reached £30 million. (5)

The GDA process is being carried out in, what is described as, an open and transparent manner, designed to facilitate the involvement of the public, who are able to view and comment on design information published on the web. Questions and comments can be submitted electronically via the Westinghouse website, or direct to the UK regulators. The deadline for making a comment on the AP1000 plant, as part of the GDA process is 30th November 2016. (6)

Edinburgh Energy and Environment Consultancy was commissioned by Radiation Free Lakeland to write a report on the AP1000 reactor design to submit to this consultation.

(Available here http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wpcontent/uploads/2016/11/AP1000_reactors.pdf )

The report came to the following conclusions:

The AP1000 advanced passive nuclear reactor design has a weaker containment, and fewer back-up safety systems than current reactor designs. Conventional reactors rely on defence-indepth made up of layers of redundancy and diversity – this is where, say, two valves are fitted instead of one (redundancy) or where the function may be achieved by one of two entirely different means (diversity). In contrast advanced passive designs rely much more on natural processes such as natural convection for cooling and gravity rather than motor-driven pumps to provide a backup water supply.

The AP1000 appears to be vulnerable to a very large release of radioactivity following an accident if there were just a small failure in the steel containment vessel, because the gasses would be sucked out the hole in the top of the AP1000 Shield Building due to the chimney effect.

Recent experience with existing reactors suggests that containment corrosion, cracking, and leakage is more common than previously thought, and AP1000s are more vulnerable to containment corrosion than conventional reactors.

In addition the AP1000 shield building lacks flexibility and so could crack in the event of an earthquake or aircraft impact.

A thorough review of the AP1000 design in the light of the Japanese accident at Fukushima has shown that:

  • Ongoing nuclear fission after a reactor has supposedly been shutdown continues to be the source of significant pressure inside the containment. The AP1000 containment is extraordinarily close to exceeding its peak post accident design pressure which means post accident pressure increases could easily lead to a breach of the containment.
  • At least seven ways in which an AP1000 reactor design might lose the ability to cool the reactors in an emergency have been identified. These include damage to the water tank which sits on top of the shield building and some sort of disruption to the air flow around the steel containment.
  • The accidents at Fukushima, especially the overheating and the hydrogen explosions in the Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool showed that the calculations and assumptions about the AP1000 Spent Fuel Pond design were wholly inadequate.
  • Fukushima showed that when several reactors share a site an accident at one reactor could damage other reactors. In the AP1000 the water tank on top of the reactor, and the shield building could be vulnerable to damage.
  • Westinghouse assumes that there is zero probability of an AP1000 containment breach. But the accidents at Fukushima have shown that there is a high, probability of Containment System failure resulting in significant releases of radioactivity directly into the environment.

The AP1000 reactor design is not fit for purpose and so should be refused a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Statement of Design Acceptability (SDA).  http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo90.pdf

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Reference, technology, UK | Leave a comment

State-controlled China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) building floating nuclear reactor

China starts to build its first floating nuclear power reactor for deployment off coast, Times of India, Reuters | Updated: Nov 7, 2016, BEIJING: China has started to build its first floating nuclear power reactor, which it plans to deploy off its coast by the end of the decade.

State-controlled China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) has begun construction of the ACPR50S reactor, and will acquire the reactor pressure vessel that encloses the reactor core from Dongfang Electric, CGN said in a statement on Friday.

The 200-megawatt reactor will help power offshore facilities in China’s open sea and island reefs, CGN said, adding that offshore energy supply is an issue that China has to overcome in order to become a naval power…….http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/China-starts-to-build-its-first-floating-nuclear-power-reactor-for-deployment-off-coast/articleshow/55298242.cms

November 11, 2016 Posted by | China, politics, technology | Leave a comment